On Wednesday morning, the Missouri Tigers practiced in full pads for two-and-a-half hours on the Kadlec Athletic Fields.
“I thought we got really good work today,” said Coach Pinkel, following practice. “It was a pads practice. Generally, when you come out of a scrimmage, you’ve got to get everybody going. But the leaders of our team and our staff got everybody going. We had really good work. We got a lot of drill work done today. And, we’ll watch video this afternoon, and get better after watching it.”
Some of the walking wounded were back on the field on Wednesday, but Matt Hoch, Morgan Steward, Donavin Newsom, Gavin Otte, Eric Laurent, and Grant Jones remained inactive. Cortland Browning participated, but was limited with respect to full contact.
As expected following Tuesday’s first scrimmage, there was quite a bit of shuffling of personnel within the Depth Chart, with several young players moving up.
For the time being, according to Missouri assistant coach A.J. Ricker, Taylor Chappell has moved over to right guard, and is working as a co-starter along with Mitch Hall. Coach Ricker confirmed that for the time being, the Tigers effectively have six starting offensive linemen.
“If they’ll let us play with six,” deadpanned Coach Ricker, who went on to say that they’ll evaluate how Chappell is doing at right guard, and go from there. He indicated that moving Chappell back out to right tackle, and moving Connor McGovern back to right guard, is still a possibility.
“Taylor is coming along,” explained Coach Ricker. “Taylor’s starting to use his hands, and punch and be physical, and sit down.”
Coach Ricker also talked about the next man in along the offensive line, Jordan Williams.
“(Jordan Williams) is solid right now,” said Coach Ricker. “He’s continuing to get better. I mean, it’s important to him. And, he’s starting to move his feet. You know, he’s physical, there ain’t no doubt about it. He’s going to try to knock your head off. But then obviously, you’ve got to move your feet after that and cover the guy up. So, he’s getting there. But I’m really pleased with him.”
All of the freshmen wide receivers took a step closer to the field following Tuesday’s scrimmage, with Lawrence Lee moving up to number two behind Jimmie Hunt at the H WR spot. In Tuesday’s scrimmage, Lee did a good job in his route running, and he caught the football easily with his hands away from his body. With Marcus Murphy working with the tailbacks this week, Lee is also taking snaps at the Y WR position, which replaces the TE in some personnel packages. He’s a little taller than Murphy and about 20 pounds lighter, but he’s the one guy on offense who can match Murphy’s elusiveness in the open field. I say offense, because there are several defensive backs who might be in that conversation.
Speaking of which, during the punt return drill, Murphy, Aarion Penton, Raymond Wingo, and Ish Witter were handling the punt returns. Anthony Sherrils was one of the outside gunners on the coverage team, so that was some fast guys chasing some other fast guys.
There’s really good competition at the Z WR position, where Darius White is currently listed as the starter. He’s being challenged by Wesley Leftwich and Nate Brown, each of whom are making a strong push for playing time this season.
On the other side of the football, Aarion Penton is establishing himself as an elite-level player.
“(Penton) is a really good player,” said Coach Pinkel. “Penton is a very, very talented guy. He came in and played as a freshman, just like E.J. (Gaines). They’re very similar type guys.”
Coach Pinkel talked about Maty Mauk’s scrimmage performance.
“We have such a high expectation level for him,” said Coach Pinkel. “But then we find out he completed 67% for 191 yards, and we think, you know, he just played average. But that’s okay. That’s good! Because there’s such a high expectation level for him. And that’s okay…………………………………………. Overall, I think he did some good things. But he can do better. We’re expecting greatness out of him. We’re not expecting good. He played good.”
Coach Pinkel identified the 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes as being very, very talented.
“I’m very pleased with our team thus far working hard,” explained Coach Pinkel. “We’ve got a long way to go in these next two weeks. But, we’ve got a lot of really good young players. They aren’t ready to play yet. They’re good athletes. I’m real excited about this class, these last two back-to-back classes. There’s a lot of guys on that field, those young players. Now, it’s just get them with Coach Ivey, and in our player development program, and get them into Mizzou Made, where we start working with them and developing them. We’re choosing right now who are those four or five that might help us this year. And that process will keep going on.”
Coach Pinkel identified establishing continuity on offense and defense as immediate goals for his team, along with developing consistency of play.
“The most important thing if you want to be a good football team is that you’ve got to play consistently,” said Coach Pinkel. “The degree of consistency in how you play, or you’ll never be as good as you can be. So, that’s the challenge that we have on both sides of the ball. But I’m pleased with our players. We’ve got a lot of competition going on out there. And, we’ll see how it turns out.”
“We’re going to have to be a football team like we were last year,” explained Coach Pinkel. “We’re going to have to be a lot better two weeks from now than we are right now. And then the first of October, we need to be better than we are the first of September. We have to be! That’s the way that we’re going to have a chance to compete. It’s our job to get that done, and staying healthy is a big factor in that.”